Since moving to London, I never realised how much I took for granted the mountains and oceans I could easily drive to in half an hour from home in Vancouver, Canada. If you ask me what I miss the most about home, this would come up on my Top 3, trailing just behind friends and family. On this lovely Friday (yay to getting Fridays off), Tim and I made our way to South Downs National Park. We had decided a few weeks in advance that this would be a nice getaway from the city, and I really never say no to exploring a new place and the outdoors. We had bought our tickets with our route from Clapham Junction to Brighton & Hove, and then to Eastbourne. Our ultimate destination was Eastbourne, but making the slight detour to Brighton first saved us some extra money. The whole journey took us about 2 hours and then we had to take a bus right by Eastbourne Station (Bus #12 or 12x) to the start of the Seven Sisters Country Park. We were blessed with a beautiful day with no rain, a lot of sunshine, but quite a bit of wind. Thankfully, a pair of running shoes, a fleece zip up, a pair of comfortably dry fit pants, and a waterproof jacket turned out to be the perfect outfit for blocking out the strong winds and keeping me warm for the day.
If you read online, you will find that they say the route from Seven Sisters Country Park to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way is intermediate/difficult. However, I honestly would say that the majority of the route is spent walking up and down rolling hills which was quite easy. A good pair of shoes with good support is really what I would recommend!
We started right by the entrance of the Seven Sisters Country Park (bus dropped us off right at the entrance)and followed the signs towards the South Downs Way. The scenery is proper English countryside with endless grasslands and animals grazing to the left and the beautiful chalk white cliffs and water on your right. When starting our walk, there were quite a lot of tourists and regulars walking along the path, but once you pass the first stop where you get to see the first of the stunning Seven Sisters Cliff, the crowd leaves, and you are left with less people who had planned for a several hour walk along the coast. The South Downs Way is incredibly accessible by car as well because there are quite a few points along the way where you are able to park your car and perhaps take in a quick moment of the South Downs. We never had any troubles with directions because there are wooden sign posts with clear marking on how to continue along the South Downs Way. Before reaching Eastbourne, you will also pass through Beachy Head which is known for people jumping off the cliffs to commit suicide. I was surprised to see a pair of Crisis Intervention workers who were walking along and making sure that everyone was alright and just here to have a good time. By Beachy Head, you will also find a lighthouse right by the shore. All in all, our walk took about 4 hours including mini breaks and time spent wandering off the dirt path. I would definitely recommend the South Downs Way because the view is simply breathtaking and is very suitable for any physical ability. The great thing about the South Downs Way is that you don’t need to go very far to see the white cliffs and you will have many options to turn around and head back. I am definitely looking forward to more outdoor adventures in England!
I would also recommend wandering around the seaside town of Eastbourne. It was quite like Brighton with a pier that almost looked identical and the architecture is quite beautiful and modern looking. However, it is more of a retirement town so there probably wouldn’t be too many activities going on, but it is still a beautiful and quiet town to stroll around.